QCT SPOTLIGHT: Steve Atchison
CRASH! BANG! CLINK! You may never see him, but percussionist Steve Atchison has tap tap tapped his way through some of our most memorable musical moments of the past two years. We took a trip under the stage to meet this musical master…
Q: Hi Steve! Tell us a little bit about yourself:
A: I am originally from Montgomery, AL. I am a Mechanical Engineer working currently for The Knapheide Manufacturing Company as a System Engineer – which means, I am the Hydraulic and Pneumatic Specialist for most of the trucks from around the country. I have been married for 34 years, and have two grown kids and one granddaughter.
Q: How did you become involved with QCT?
A: After accepting a position almost five years ago with Knapheide, I tried for two years to get an audition. I got a call from Gayle Tenhouse and the rest is history.
Q: You’ve played percussion in a few of our shows. How many instruments do you play?
A: That is a tricky question. Well, I started on the saxophone when I was nine, and I started playing drums at church when I was 12. Over the years, I have played for just about every type of group you can imagine. I currently play the following instruments: saxophone, flute, trombone, key boards, bass guitar, electric/acoustical guitar, banjo, and a unique digital instrument called a wind midi which has over 300 sounds and fingering just like a saxophone (except for instant 7 octaves at your thumb).
Q: Where else do you play?
A: I have been asked to join a few groups, but my schedule is very crazy. The QCT musicals have dates I can plan for and it just seems to work for me.
Q: What is it like playing in the pit for a musical?
A: Playing for a musical in Quincy, I am always surprised with the talent in what I consider a small community. The summer shows seem to bring out all of the local music and band directors from a large radius. I am one of the few that does not have a Master’s Degree in music, but again I am just the drummer—right!
Q: The shows you’ve played for are so different—especially this last musical, SWEENEY TODD. What is it like moving between different styles of music?
A: I look at the different shows as part of the larger picture: to try and tell a story—even if that story is dramatic, funny, a black opera, or whatever.
My first show was MARY POPPINS. What a big production! For a drummer, SISTER ACT was right down my alley since I actually played Disco in the 70’s. My dream show would be MAMA MIA! since I’m a big ABBA fan.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important for QCT to accompany musicals with live musicians?
A: I have played probably 50 musicals and every show requires special tweaking—whether that be by adding music or speeding up to fit in a certain timeframe. So, yes, live musicians are important to have when the budget can support musicians and extra directors. As all musicians know, there is never an exact duplication with live music.
I remember during CAMELOT a young person—I think 15 years old—sat in and did a great job, and that really impressed me. Back in Alabama, the kids begin learning in Junior High and that’s much too late for me.
For me personally, live theatre is completely out of my everyday routine and it spices up my life.
Q: How do hope your QCT story continues?
A: One of the most impressive things I have noticed is the community support for this theatre. It really is a special thing that the Quincy area can be proud to call its own.
I have shown over the last two years that I can support many of the special musical parts. Maybe after this newsletter a few more instruments will get dusted off…